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What’s The Difference Between Mercedes Sprinter 1500, 2500, 3500, 3500XD, and 4500

The difference between Mercedes Sprinter 1500, 2500, 3500 ,3500XD, 4500

If you are in the market for a Mercedes Sprinter van, you will probably be wondering “what is the difference between Mercedes Sprinter 1500, 2500, 3500, 3500XD, and 4500?”  This post will cover all the differences between the types of Sprinter vans and why you might choose one over another.  Due to the ever-changing and nearly endless number of model years, trims, and configurations it’s challenging to explain all the possible combinations.  So this post attempts to simplify the differences between Mercedes Sprinter models into some easy guidelines.

A mercedes sprinter campervan
Photo by Jordan Irving on Unsplash

The Bottom Line | The Difference Between Mercedes Sprinter Models

Basically, the difference between Mercedes Sprinter 1500, 2500, 3500, 3500XD, and 4500 is the amount of weight they can haul.  The two main categories are payload (how much weight you can carry inside the van) and towing (how much weight you can tow behind it).

What Does The Number Signify?

The higher the number tagged on a Mercedes Sprinter van, the higher the weight limit.  The general principle is that each increasing model offers higher ratings for payload and towing.  Similar to how pick-up trucks are spec’d out, these van lineups have a similar relationship.

The notable exception is that Sprinter 1500 and 2500 often are rated for the same towing power.  And depending on the year and trim other exceptions may exist.

How Are The Models Built Differently?

In order to accommodate more payload and towing, each increasing model has certain upgraded parts.  Sprinter 2500, 3500, 3500XD, and 4500 will have more beefy suspension, brakes, etc.  They may also have bigger engines, larger transmissions, and a higher output alternator.

The largest Sprinter vans may also have dual rear wheels (aka dually) for better stability and traction.

All of these changes result in a higher curb-weight, but an overall higher payload.

Payload Comparison | Mercedes Sprinter

It’s important to choose a van with an appropriate payload rating for your intended use.  And as I stated the higher number corresponds to a higher payload.  But it’s not quite that simple because Sprinter vans are available in a variety of different engine configurations.  So sometimes ratings will change based on configuration.

So even among two different Sprinter 2500’s you may find different payload and towing ratings.

And as a general guideline, payloads and towing capacity increase over time as technology improves, but the change is gradual.

For 2021 Sprinters, the payload range goes from 3,800lbs for the 1500, and a whopping 6,735lbs for the 4500. {Source:}

Towing | Mercedes Sprinter

The towing ratings tend to be grouped a little more uniformly between models.  Sprinter 1500 and Sprinter 2500 are currently (2021) rated the same at 5,000lbs towing.  And the Sprinter 3500, 3500XD, and 4500, are all rated the same at 7,500lbs towing.

Sizes Available | Mercedes Sprinters

Length & Wheelbase | Mercedes Sprinter

Most people refer to the length of a Mercedes Sprinter by it’s wheelbase.  That is, the distance between the front and rear axles.

The two wheelbase lengths for Sprinters are 144″, and 170″.

But the third and longest version is the 170″ extended.  The wheelbase is the same as the 170″ regular, but van body overhangs farther in the rear.

144″ Standard: Exterior = 19’4″, Cargo Area = 123″

170″ Long: Exterior = 22’9″, Cargo Area = 165″

170″ Extended: Exterior = 24′, Cargo Area = 180″

Typically the 144″ wheelbase sprinter is better suited for solo vanlifers and weekend warriors.  It’s more nimble off-road, easier to park in cities, and gets better gas mileage.

But of course, the smaller space inside a 144″ means less space for people, furniture, and belongings.

The 170″ and 170″ Extended Sprinters are better for full-time living, especially with multiple people, pets, toys, and more personal belongings.  The longer vans give you more space for a living/dining/kitchen/office space in your conversion.  But of course, a longer vehicle is harder to drive in tight spaces off-road or in cities.

Interior Width | Mercedes Sprinter

All Mercedes Sprinters are the same interior width, at 70″ at the widest point.  So that’s 5’10”.

But don’t think that a 5’10” person can orient their bed sideways in a Mercedes Sprinter and sleep cross ways.  There’s several other important factors that influence whether or not you can sleep sideways in a van.

Height | Mercedes Sprinter

Mercedes Sprinters have been offered in 3 different roof heights.  They are commonly referred to as Low Roof, High Roof, and Super-High Roof.

Super High Roof has been discontinued as of 2018.

Low Roof Height: Exterior = 96.3″, Interior = 63.2″

High Roof Height: Exterior = 110″, Interior = 76.4″

Super-High Height: Exterior = 120.1″, Interior = 84″

Notable Differences Between Mercedes Sprinter 1500, 2500, 3500, 3500XD, and 4500

Boiling down the difference between Mercedes Sprinter 1500, 2500, 3500, 3500XD, and 4500 is a little tricky because available models change over time.  And there’s A TON of possible combinations.  But here are a few notable differences that are helpful when shopping between different models.

The Sprinter 2500 has by far the most possible combinations of size, trim, engines, etc.  So you will typically find the most variety and options in the 2500’s.

Not every height and wheelbase is available for each model of Mercedes Sprinter.  For example, the 1500 Sprinter is only available in 144″ wheelbase with either Low or High Roof.

Somewhat counterintuitively, the 170″ Extended Sprinters often have less towing and payload than their 144″ length counterparts.  This is likely due to the increased weight of the vehicle’s body (curb-weight).  After all, payload is often calculated as a function of G.V.W.R. (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) and Curb Weight.

{Payload = GVWR – Curb Weight}

The Sprinter 3500XD is the higher payload version of the Sprinter 3500.  The 3500XD is always equipped with dual rear wheels.

The Sprinter 4500 is the most powerful of all the Sprinter models.  It’s probably overkill for any typical van conversion.

4×4 Sprinters are only available in 2500 and 3500 models.  But 4×4 Sprinters are more expensive and in limited supply, so may want to consider whether or not you really need 4WD?

If you’re curious, the Dodge Sprinter and Freightliner Sprinter are identical to Mercedes Sprinters except for the branding.  They are part of a partnership between companies to avoid an import tax on Sprinters coming to the US.

Do you know any notable differences between Mercedes Sprinter models that we missed? Let us know in the comments!

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The difference between Mercedes Sprinter 1500, 2500, 3500, 3500XD, 4500
The difference between Mercedes Sprinter 1500, 2500, 3500, 3500XD, 4500

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